Monday, 8 February 2010

The season of Crêpes is upon us

Yesterday, we ate far too many crêpes, confiture and Chantilly cream all because of the walking group's social conviviality after the 10km organised walk through the forest of Chatellerault. We were not very weary as we sat at the table and ogled at the many platefuls of pancakes piled high for 24 people. To accompany this gastronomic or gourmandaise pleasure there were bottles of Loire valley bubbly, Cotes du Rhone wine, cider, fruit juice, tea or coffee. Jars of jam were opened, including my 3 year old "guigne" cherry jam from the Village de Vaux cherry trees. As it was complimented upon many times, I felt a surge of pride! In turn, we commended the two apricot jams, the reine claud plum jam, the delicious raspberry confiture and the orange marmalade. The Nutella was mostly left untouched. Another 10km walk was required to reduce the carbohydrate overload.

Traditionally, in England, the first date for eating pancakes is Shrove Tuesday (now called Pancake Day for those not following the Christian calendar), which is the day before Ash Wednesday, being the first of the 40 days of Lent. Therefore rich, fatty foods were eaten a plenty before this fasting season. It was a way to use up eggs, flour and milk.
However, in France, pancakes are traditionally served at Candlemas and it was believed that come the evening of that date, if the cook could toss the pancake and catch it in the pan using the main sinistre (left hand) whilst at the same time holding a golden coin in the main droit (right hand) then riches would be for her family that year! I think this idea was before the acceptance of a dominant left-hand and those who are ambidextrous.

Candlemas (Le Chandeleur) is a fixed date in the Christian calendar, appearing 40 days after Christmas Day. It is also called "The Presentation of Jesus at the Temple" as well as "The Feast of the Purification of the Virgin Mary" and in addition "The Meeting of the Lord".

From Candles and coins to crêpes et confitures - a wonderful idea indeed.

As we wound our way through the arboretum of Châtellerault forest, across the bridge traversing the autoroute, returning to the town by another route, one marvelled at how quickly one can escape from town life to tranquil lake with it's birdlife at this time of year, and then further to the mixed woodland called a forest. En route we had a nature lesson identifying different trees and a history lesson about WWII. We saw a pillbox built by the Germans for their ammunitions and the tomb of the postman who was killed by the Germans during the war.

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